GeoCarta Has Moved

Dec 9, 2005

Earth's Magnetic Pole Is On The Move

The Earth's north magnetic pole has accelerated its shift away from North America and toward Siberia it was reported yesterday at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. It is unclear whether this movement is part of a longer term trend, the Associated Press quoted Joseph Stoner, a paleomagnetist at Oregon State University as saying, "This may be part of a normal oscillation and it will eventually migrate back toward Canada." If the speed of the movement were to continue, Alaska could lose its spectacular Northern Lights display in the next 50 years.

According to Professors Stoner's study, during the last 150 years, the north magnetic pole wandered about 685 miles out into the Arctic. The rate of the magnetic pole's movement has increased in the last century, after remaining fairly steady in the previous four hundred years, he said.

It has long been known that the magnetic poles migrate, though the reason remains unexplained. For centuries, navigators using compasses had to adjust for the fact that a compass needle points to magnetic north and not geographic north. Most commonly, they adjusted for this declination by sighting stars.